Eat Local Sandusky
Friday 3-6 in the Jackson St Parking Lot
Downtown Sandusky, OH
Erie Fresh CSA
I finally met Joshua and Lauren, the driving force for the 1st Sandusky, OH and Lake Erie Islands CSA, and the 1st Artisan local and local organic farmers market in downtown Sandusky, OH. I talked to them at length asking how this area, a farming area, could have so little local and local organic foods available for years, and I was hoping to get answers. For nearly a decade, Sandusky, Oh was a food desert with big chain and fast food restaurants. The only fresh vegetables I could find for the longest time was an iceberg lettuce salad. I stopped by the Perkins Rd farm stand to find out they were selling the same stuff form the produce warehouse that the chain grocery store was selling. I was desperate for sort of local vegetable and fruit. I saw so many farms around Sandusky, and I was so confused why I could not find a vendor or farm stand selling locally grown foods. On some occasions on my way into Sandusky, I stopped at some farms and bought direct from farmers because I was so desperate for fresh local fruits and vegetables. Then, I discovered Zinc Brasserie and Crush, owned by Cesare and Andrea, and they strive to use local organic, local and organic ingredients in every entree, and the salads and vegetables are mostly locally grown.
Last year, Andrea told me about Joshua and Lauren (who created Erie Fresh CSA) and the new farmers market and CSA they started. The farmers market is on Friday 3 - 6 pm in the Jackson St parking lot behind the downtown theater and Crush, just south of the Lake (that would Lake Erie). The farmers market is small, but all the vendors are local, they grow their food locally, or they make their products like soap, bread and cookies locally. If I lived there, I would go to this farmers market and buy my food. Joshua is only allowing local artisan cooks and bakers, and locally grown produce to be sold here. There is another Sandusky farmers market on Saturday located down the street, and the vendors there may or may not be selling locally grown or made foods. There are a few local farmers selling food at that market, but I did notice that there were some selling the same stuff the big chain grocery stores sell, and there was a flea market component as well. Flea markets are fun, but it is not what I want when I am looking for local organic food.
Joshua noticed the same thing I did about Sandusky. There was a lack of locally grown and made foods to be had in the area. So last year, they started the Erie Fresh CSA, bringing together a 11 different local and local organic farmers to supply food and flowers to 100 households. They have eggs, fruits, vegetables and flowers to offer over 22 weeks of the growing season. Not only do they supply the mainland Sandusky area food, they also offer the CSA to the residents of the islands in Lake Erie. After the mainland farmers market shuts down at 6 pm, they rush over to the last ferry of the evening to deliver the shares to the islands. Wow, that is dedication.
Joshua and Lauren not only started the all local farmers market, and all local CSA, they also have been trying to move forward to reclaim empty urban lots to start growing foods. There are a lot of hoops to jump through, and strange policies that make no sense, but they keep on pressing forward. Local residents seem to like having empty over grown lots transformed to a bounty of food. There is nothing more fun that walking out the door, and cutting food for the evening meal. Another idea they are working on is to open a local and local organic farm-to-store in downtown Sandusky. There is one farm-to-store in Wooster, OH they may model their store after. I look forward to this venture in the future. Another venture Joshua and Lauren are doing are trying matching up local restaurants interested in serving locally grown ingredients with local farm foods. Crush, Zinc Brasserie, Red Gables and Jack's Deli source some of the foods from Joshua and Lauren's local farm sources. They provide locally grown eggs, bread, fruits and vegetables and it is fun to see which one ingredients in a dish are from Joshua and Lauren's farm partners.
It is definitely getting easier to eat locally where ever I go. It may take time to and a little googling before going to the destination, but it can be done. While in Ohio, I travel with a plate, plastic fork and knife and zip and steam bags to microwave food. I also eat out at delicious restaurants who are sourcing some of their food from local and organic farms. I have another trip coming up to a far off land, I have already researched farmers markets, and a local organic shop and deli. It is possible to locally where ever I go.
Why do I try to eat locally? It isn't for any political reason. Quite frankly it is because locally grown food is usually picked and sold ripe, and farm ripened foods tastes so much better than the veggies and fruit sold in chain grocery stores. The stuff in chain groceries are picked green to ship, and red fruits are gassed (liked tomatoes and strawberries) to turn red, but the fruit still tastes like cardboard because it was never ripe. I also like locally raised free range eggs because there actually are tighter controls over small flocks, so there is less risk of deadly bacteria. Lastly, it is a control issue for me, I just like knowing a lot about where my food come from, and I like knowing the farms and farmers who grow my food.